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NASA's MRO completes 60,000 trips around Mars

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter hit a dizzying milestone this morning: It completed 60,000 loops around the Red Planet at 10:39 a.m. PDT (1:39 p.m. EDT). On average, MRO takes 112 minutes to circle Mars, whipping around ...

Curiosity tastes first sample in 'clay-bearing unit'

Scientists working with NASA's Curiosity Mars rover have been excited to explore a region called "the clay-bearing unit" since before the spacecraft launched. Now, the rover has finally tasted its first sample from this part ...

Mars InSight lander seen in first images from space

On Nov. 26, NASA's InSight mission knew the spacecraft touched down within an 81-mile-long (130-kilometer-long) landing ellipse on Mars. Now, the team has pinpointed InSight's exact location using images from HiRISE, a powerful ...

Five things to know about InSight's Mars landing

Every Mars landing is a knuckle-whitening feat of engineering. But each attempt has its own quirks based on where a spacecraft is going and what kind of science the mission intends to gather.

Chlorate-rich soil may help us find liquid water on Mars

If liquid water exists on the surface of Mars, it is most likely in the form of a briny mixture with magnesium chlorate salts, according to new experiments based on discoveries previously made by NASA's Phoenix and Viking ...

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Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is a multipurpose spacecraft designed to conduct reconnaissance and exploration of Mars from orbit.

When MRO entered orbit there were five other spacecraft in orbit of or on Mars: Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Express, Mars Odyssey, and two Mars Exploration Rovers; a then record for most spacecraft operational in Mars vicinity. The $720 million USD spacecraft was built by Lockheed Martin under the supervision of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It was launched August 12, 2005, and attained Martian orbit on March 10, 2006. In November 2006, after five months of aerobraking, it entered its final science orbit and began its primary science phase.

MRO contains a host of scientific instruments such as cameras, spectrometers, and radar, which are used to analyze the landforms, stratigraphy, minerals, and ice of Mars. It paves the way for future spacecraft by monitoring daily weather and surface conditions, studying potential landing sites, and hosting a new telecommunications system. MRO's telecommunications system will transfer more data back to Earth than all previous interplanetary missions combined, and MRO will serve as a highly capable relay satellite for future missions.

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